Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Got a good peek

Got a pretty good peek at the baby this afternoon. Everything looked healthy, and the lip appears to not be clefted. So grateful and relieved for this news.  We are waiting to find out the gender, so for now this is Baby Fowler.  So glad everything appears to be healthy.  Someone pinch me!
 Here's a big foot!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ultrasound Eve

It's interesting, with each child, I have felt the need to blog the night before my 20-week ultrasound to jot down the thoughts of my heart.  It usually falls after a long spell of not actively blogging due to morning sickness which seems to have gotten worse with each pregnancy, and this time is no different (Johnny even took over blogging for me for a bit as you can see below).

I guess I haven't officially announced it here, but we are expecting.  We are very excited. This baby will be due right around the 4th of July.

I finally began to feel a bit better in terms of nausea a few weeks ago, but then our family got hit with the stomach bug (including me), and then more recently, I got a terrible cough/chest cold which turned into bronchitis and finally started some antibiotics for and am hoping for a quick recovery.  I want to start enjoying life again now that I am more than half way through this pregnancy and hopefully won't be as sick as the first 1/2.

I also have experienced a bit of anxiety and depression the first 1/2 of this pregnancy.  Anxiety because I feel ultra paranoid when I am pregnant.  I am so worried of any little thing harming my baby.  I worry about everything I breath, everything I eat and drink, everything I use to clean my house with.  Only another mother that has had a child born with a cleft can understand this.  In fact, I have a friend who is due a couple weeks after me and she had 2 little girls born with clefts and she shared with me some of her paranoia- she has felt like she has had to re-wash the dishes again after taking them out of the dishwasher each time in fear of ingesting dish soap residue and I was like "oh good, someone else that goes a bit crazy/ocd when they are pregnant too". 

Depression has come naturally with such strong morning sickness.  It's hard to feel well enough to get out of bed when everything stinks and flavorful food is no longer enjoyable, and can barely brush my teeth without gagging.  Ginger Ale and crackers get old after a while.

When I was just barely pregnant with this baby, I had a couple of dreams.  The first one was when I was just barely pregnant, and I had a dream that I was on the phone with my mom, telling her the ultrasound results, and I was all choked up, I couldn't talk.  I was telling her that they'd found a cleft on the baby, and I was asking her to call my siblings as I didn't want to cry on the phone anymore.

Another dream a few weeks later, came one night after I had felt really emotional and worried the night before.  I had been worried that this baby would be born with a cleft, and had shed a few tears to my husband, and I believe that was the night he gave me a priesthood blessing.  In the dream, I saw the baby and it was a beautiful little girl, she was teeny- about the size of my palm, and had dark, dark hair.  She had beautiful little lips, and there was no cleft at all.  My heart felt so relieved when I awoke.  It kind of reminded me of a dream I had had with Will, where I saw this little baby with lanugo all over him.

I don't know if either of these dreams have any meaning- perhaps they have more to do with the thoughts/anxieties of my heart, but I also do believe that dreams can hold special purposes and meanings in our lives.  I've had a few that have been very premonitory and so I always feel the need to write them down when I wake up to a memorable/impactful one.  James has had a dream where we have these 2 darling blonde girls, so maybe his dream will come true :)

I pray for strength tomorrow during the ultrasound.  If I were to compare pregnancies, I'd say this pregnancy feels almost identical to Alice and Will's and therefore I have one feeling that tells me there will be no cleft, but then again, I have this other feeling that says, "be prepared".  I remember feeling like Johnny's pregnancy was so different than Jimmy's pregnancy and I went into the Ultrasound thinking there wouldn't be any cleft found, and then there was, and it floored me.  So I feel the need to prepare my heart both ways. 

Each time before James and I have decided to get pregnant, we have asked ourselves, are we ready to go through everything again if this baby would be born with a cleft?  Each time we've said yes.  But it is hard nonetheless to imagine starting all over with surgeries.  We are finally finishing up Johnny's surgeries this year.  That is 10 major surgeries we've been through with our boys.  14 times of general anesthesia for them where my mommy heart cries inside with worry.  Lots of speech therapy, occupational and feeding therapy as a baby, and lots of extra doctor visits and pre/post op appointments.  I know some say "it could be worse", but it could also "be nothing".

Ultrasounds conjure a lot of fear up in me.  Perhaps that is why I feel the need to write the night before.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of having my heart shaken up.  Having said this, I am grateful for them- grateful that they give us the opportunity to prepare in either outcome.

It has been interesting though.  The past few months when I have talked at all about my worries/fears, the reactions or words of advice/comfort people have given sometimes has taken me by surprise.  I feel strongly the need to write down some things that you shouldn't say to a friend who has had a cleft diagnosis or is worried about one.  I recently came across this picture posted on a facebook group, and it explains very well what has gone through my head and heart:

 I pray for peace and strength tomorrow.  No matter what the outcome may be.  We love this little spaghetti squash sized baby so much, and are excited to get to know it a little bit better.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Utah trip for Johnny's Expander

We got back in late last night.  Thanks to the Halversons for putting us up and letting us stay and play with them.  Johnny loved seeing and playing with cousins David and Rachel.  I loved chatting with Lisa and their home was so hospitable and nice to stay in.  I just wish I would have snapped more pictures!  I always forget to get out my camera these days.
(Lisa's valentine's message to me- we have a TP roll war that has been going on since childhood.  I left her with a bunch scattered around her house with messages written on them when we left)
Something kind of funny- we ended up with the funniest rental car EVER!  When we got off our flight in SLC, I was haggard and tired.  We had got stuck in LAX the night before due to a delayed flight/missed connection, and had to wake up at 4:30 am to make sure we didn't miss our re-booked flight.  I was so scared I wouldn't wake up to the alarm, so instead woke up in 15 minute intervals from 12:00-4:15.  It was terrible.  We made it to SLC, and as I'm lugging my 2 children, their car seats, my pregnant belly, a stroller, and our carryon luggage (actually I should give more credit to Johnny, he was truly helpful!), I make my way to the Budget car rental desk to get the Economy 2/4 door car I had reserved weeks before.  As I pull my stuff up to the counter, the guy says, "would you like to upgrade to something a big bigger?  Looks like you have a lot of stuff."  I am a cheapskate, and told him "no, it's just car seats and small luggage, I think we'll fit just fine".  Then the rental car guy asked me- "are you comfortable driving a sticK?" I said, "okay", and then he said "okay, I'm going to give you a mustang, are you okay with that?".  I just thought Mustang was a brand (like GMC, Ford, dodge, Honda) and was like "sure, sounds fine to me".  He didn't tell me anything about the color or that this was a race car.  I grab the keys from him and we make our way out to the parking garage.  
It is a bit of a walk, and when we finally get to the right stall, I see this Neon green car that looks like it is out of some car magazine.  I just about walked back to the rental car office after seeing the car in the parking garage to tell them I'd like a different one, but I was tired, and Johnny was like "No, Mom!  This is so awesome!  This is my favorite car in the world!".  So I decide to stick with it for Johnny.  He has  remote control car at home that looks almost the same and so it was like one of his favorite toys had come to life.  Will is fast asleep in the stroller.  I get everything and everybody loaded in, and start up the motor- holy moly!  I mark down on the little piece of paper that you are supposed to make note of any dings/dents on that the "motor is really grumbly".  
The stick/gear placements are different from our Honda Civic's at home, so I spend the first 30 minutes, starting in 3rd gear at all the stoplights.  People are peering in, wondering who is this Grandma driving a race car?   I finally get a hang of it, and realize it really does have a kick in 1st gear.  But it was SO EMBARASSING driving this thing!  I think everyone thought I was trying to race them.  On the way to Lisa's house, I find myself in North Orem (trying to find Jamba juice), and all these men were driving really aggressively against me, flashing their lights, and not letting me into lanes and stuff.  Then I realized, "well I am on state street, and I am driving a race car, I guess you can't expect much different". 

Okay, enough about the car, more about Johnny's visit with Dr. Yamashiro.  We were about 1.5 hours late for our Monday morning appointment due to flying in late into SLC (we were originally supposed to get in the night before).  Dr. Yamashiro was so nice and was just happily waiting around for us during his lunch break.  He's such a kind man, with a big heart.
Johnny got some impressions and x-rays taken and then we headed down to Springville to see Lisa and family.  We headed back up to Yamashiro's office Thursday morning on our way to the airport, and that is when he put in Johnny's expander in his mouth and got him all fitted with Reverse Pull Head Gear.  Here are some pics of the expander that was put in Johnny's mouth.  
There's a little key that we use and we just turn the key once a day and it will begin expanding his top palate/teeth in prep for the bone graft which will take place later this year.  The reverse pull headgear (which only has to be worn at night- Johnny was relieved about that) will hopefully reduce the chances of him having to have an additional jaw surgery in the future and correct his severe underbite.
Besides getting to see Lisa and family, I also got to see some wonderful friends- Rachel who has been a dear friend since childhood.  Rachel and I hung out almost all of Wednesday and drove around the valley running errands together.  She shared some hard news that she had recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, and my heart has been so full of thoughts and love for her these past few days.  She shares her experience here on her "cancer blog".

I also got to see Leah, another childhood/lifelong friend and her cute daughter Kate and catch up.  As well as a mission buddy, Rian who was so fun to sit down briefly with and chat and see her kids getting all grown up and her adorable new baby boy.

It was a great trip, but boy am I pooped!  Will loved to try and bounce on my tummy during all 4 flights, and I am glad to not be confined to an airplane seat any longer!
Johnny was so sad to say goodbye to the green car.  He wanted me to drive it back to Arkansas so badly.  One of the funny things was that both he and I had green coats the whole time, and they matched the car.  We looked like die-hard green mustang fanatics.  Maybe that is why the rental car guy gave it to me- we matched it! :)

Monday, January 27, 2014


One day me and my brother and sister were on the trampling, and there was lots of leaves in the fall so we put the leaves inside our clothes,it shore looked like we were fat. [Johnny wrote this all by his self.]

Sunday, January 19, 2014

still chuckling

Tonight at the dinner table, 2 of my kids made "chuckle-jar"-worthy comments.  I wanted to jot them down to remember.
While eating dinner Johnny, age 6 says:
"Dad, did you know that in Joplin, it's polite to burp after you eat your food?" (He was getting Joplin mixed up with Japan here) :)

And then after dinner, I was scooping up some peppermint ice cream for the kids for dessert and Alice, age 3 says, "Mom, I don't want Poo-poo-mint!  I want vanilla!"

(cute super woman outfit made by Aunt Sissy! )
And on a different day, last week, Alice said something else that made me laugh- she and Will were playing on the stairs, holding sheet music, and they had their dollies and stuffed animals all sitting in a row.  And the following conversation took place:
Mom: "What are you doing?"
Alice: "We are playing Church"
Mom: "Oh, that's sweet, are you the mom and Will is the dad?"
Alice: "No, Will is the baby.  The daddy died".
Mom: "Oh no, how did the daddy die?"
Alice: "He drunk water out of the toilet and the lake, and then he died"

And another cute (this time wordless) thing that makes me chuckle.  The boys have a bunk bed, but love to sleep on the same bunk.  They are tucked in on their own bunks, but I often find them like this when I go to check on them before James and I go to bed...

Snuggle buddies

Pretend Boy

Hi my name is Johnny. One night me and my brother Jimmy made a pretend boy. Well we were sleeping our mom came to check on us  and it scared her.When we woke up our mom told us about the boy. We thought it was pretty funny.
(Johnny wrote this entry all by himself)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Crazy kids

Sometimes I feel like all I do all day is try to keep my kids alive.

This is them goofin' off in the yard

And Johnny has a new found talent.  Isn't he great?
That's Jimmy doing a whistle duet in the background.

What kind of bread?

 Alice: You makin' cookies Mom?
Me: Yep.
Alice: Aw, I wish you makin' bikini bread.

Alice making "bikini bread"

Monkey bars

This little video made me chuckle.  Made by Alice.  Had no clue it was on the video camera until I downloaded videos from the last 6 months tonight.

She was so adamant about video taping the monkey bars HA!

Monkey Bars from anna fowler on Vimeo.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Some good words

I recently came across this letter written by another mom.  I can't find the original source/author's name sadly, but her words really resonated with me, so I wanted to re post them here.  Lot's of good reminders for me to work on and remember as a mother what is most important.  Sometimes I feel a bit worried that maybe I don't have my kids enrolled in enough extracurricular activities and classes.  I read things like this and I feel a peaceful assurance that it's okay.  One thing we do do every single night is read as a family scripture, and then each of the kids gets to pick out a story and we read individually to them.  Every single night.  Even 1 year old Will.  Tonight Will picked out an old little ABC/Chinese book we have.  Alice picked out Mike Mulligan and the Steam shovel.  The older boys get to pick out a chapter from a book.  Right now James is reading Orson Scott Card to them (they recently finished the Narnia and Harry Potter series).  Jimmy and Johnny have turned into wonderful readers, top of their classes at school, and I really think the nightly reading ritual has played a big role.

Another thing is we don't do video games in our house.  I know, boring.  On our first Christmas as a newlywed couple, James asked for a Nintendo game cube for Christmas.  We found a used one at a video game store, and he brought it home and played it for a day.  The next day, he decided to take it back and return it.  He felt a prompting to start our family out (we were due with a baby boy in a few days) without video games in the home.  I'm so glad he did that.  I really think it has made a difference, and I hope we can continue it for as long as we can.  Now my kids have played video games- at friends houses, and I've let them play a few educational ones on the computer, but it most definitely is not something that do daily, weekly, or even monthly.   I'm so glad they are instead, choosing to look at insects on the porch- find a new pet spider, read, water plants, or helping me do chores (well they probably aren't choosing that last one, but I'm making 'em).

Okay, here's the article (by the way, I am no expert in all the good stuff she has below- still need to work on quite a bit of stuff, but loved the reminders):

*Note, I did not write the below.
What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. "What should a 4 year old know?" she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL's to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn't. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn't be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy.

But more important, here's what parents need to know.
  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.

    They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer 2013 funnies

I find the funniest pictures of my kids on my camera.  This is a self portrate done by Alice.
Alice, while listening closely to a record player that was playing says, "Is dare people in dare?"

Also a couple self portraits of Johnny
 and there's more: self portrait whilst foraging & building log cabins...
 John Robert, my jokester came up with this one all on his own, "What is the biggest fact?"  "A FACT-ory!"  get it?  get it?

Jimmy innocently told me last night, "you're kind of getting too big for your clothes aren't you mom?"  LOL  Gawsh, made me feel great.

Thank goodness my kid steal my camera and take pictures of each other.  This is a portrait of Will that showed up, I think it was done by Johnny.
Will is a walking and beginning to be talking smile factory.  He makes us all giggle and laugh.  He recently learned how to fold his arms and say "amen" during prayers and dinner grace.  He will play fetch or ball over and over and over.  During the heat of the summer, James has said multiple times "let me shave Will's head, he'll get so much less sweaty".  I can't pull myself to letting him get a massive haircut like that.  I'm still so attached to his dark hair (which is kind of blonde/golden underneath now :( ).

studying a freshly tweezed tick under the microscope
This Summer has actually been pretty mild compared to last.  Boys camped out on the back porch the other night in a tent even (usually it is taboo to camp in Arkansas in the Summer because of the heat/humidity).  Have picked out about 11 ticks out of my children's body parts.  I've become brave, how I hate those little suckers.  I have been known to eye any new summer freckles on my kids with absolute paranoia LOL.

Here's a 4th of July pic:

Also, we moved!  3 months ago.  Bought our first home.  Love it.  Went from this beloved rental we enjoyed so much on Picadilly:
(Boys miss the pond immensely! No more going fishing across the street sniff sniff).

To this beautiful new (for us) place in an awesome neighborhood we'd been eying for some time:

A little more room to spread out in and we're having fun making it our own.  Although Saturdays have become incredibly full of projects now.  Does the list ever end?  I've got a couple rooms all finished.  Recently got the dining room all done:
 I love it how the sun comes through the windows every morning.
 I found the perfect little china cabinet to re-purpose to put in there.  $60 at a garage sale, not bad eh?  A little white paint and finish, and the little brass knobs just needed a bit of brasso and they gleamed right up.  Reupholstered the chairs with some cheap drapes I found on clearance:

Kids found a useful purpose for these pillars- pole racing! 
Kids are getting lots of practice building upper body strength on them ;)
 Jimmy and Johnny have become amazing readers!  They LOVE to read.  Jimmy reads about a book every 1-2 days, and Johnny, starts every book Jimmy reads and so he's in the middle of about 8 books right now :).  They push each other and my heart warms when I see them relaxing at home with a good book.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

School Fall 2013

Jimmy and Johnny started school the 1st of August.  Don't they look spiffy?  Johnny asked me to take a picture of him jumping:
They are at a new school this year- we didn't move too far, but in new boundaries since moving a couple months ago.  Johnny was so sad to switch.  Jimmy was a lot more easy going about it.  They've both made new friends, but will miss their old.  I think they both scored great teachers this year too!
Of course, Alice was exited about the 1st day of school too!  I think she thought she was going too...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sargeant Bill and Bill Magaboo

Johnny and Jimmy in disguises. Cute mustaches!
2019-07-30 13 44 24 from anna fowler on Vimeo.

Dinner detective

Johnny came to dinner the other night and as the meal ensued, he pulled out a magnifying glass from his pocket.  He pursued to take a detailed look at the contents of his dinner plate.  He said he was searching for "poison".  When asked what poison was he replied "onions"  "tomatoes".  He also came equipped with rubber arrows for personal safety.  Who knew dinner could be such a dangerous place in the Fowler household!

poison food from anna fowler on Vimeo.

Air band

The kids love to jump around the living room and on the couches whenever I put music on.  This was a cute moment- all 3 of them lip-syncing.  Poor messy-haired Alice kept on getting elbowed by Johnny.  There is definitely some sibling rivalry that goes on daily between those two...
Fowler living room lip-syncing from anna fowler on Vimeo.


Massive fort: Jimmy is an incredible fort builder.  Johnny and Alice also are great assistants, but Jimmy is usually the mastermind.  I look forward to someday having a playroom where he can build and not have me nag him about cleaning it up right away (he loves to build in the living room, which is okay, but because it is our living room, I always make him pick it all up shortly thereafter).  Sometimes I think I should relax and be a more spontaneous mommy.  Like next time we have company, I'm going to let them come in, and tell them "please sit down"...
..."here, crawl in this little fort door, and sit down on this cushionless couch.  Thanks for coming by today...".

Here's a mansion he put together last month:

Biiiiiig fort from anna fowler on Vimeo.

And here's a video that shows some of his younger days when he was just getting started as a builder:

Professional Fort Builders from anna fowler on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Will was born with a full black head of hair.  When he first was born, his hair reminded me of a beatle hair cut.  Fittingly, I decided his little personal lullaby song (I have one for each of the kids) would be The Beatles "I Will" song.  It fits perfectly with his name and hair :)  And I sing it to him often.  Here it is if you haven't heard it before (sung by someone with a much fancier voice than mine):
Since Jimmy and Johnny were born with old-man-mullet hair, and Alice was born with no hair (which didn't grow in until she was 2), I have felt the need to get all my baby-hair-fix out on Will.  Sometimes I style his hair while he's nursing, or playing in the bath, or taking a nap.  James and I think up different characters/movie stars and play guess who.  Today during Alice's nap, Will and I played hair-do.

Here are few "Will-do's", (if you will):

Will-Do #1
Will-Do #2
 Will-Do #3
Will-Do #4
 Will-Do #5

There was a lady at church that told me that my baby reminded me so much of an old man in her old ward that had a toupee.  Nice.  This is what Will's hair looks like, it has fallen out on the sides, and is coming in much lighter, but is going strong and still dark on the top:
 His little toupee is what I style with :)